When I started writing this particular post last October (yes, it's been bounding around the lobes of my brain for a while) I wondered whether Whoopie Pies were poised to be the new Cupcakes.
Back then, I wrote,
"I feel like I'm seeing whoopie pies everywhere I turn. And aren't cupcakes far too 2002 these days?"
But now that I've made a couple of batches of whoopie pies, I realize they're no match for the mighty cupcake. I've come to this conclusion for three key reasons:
1. The Cuteness Factor. Cupcakes are cute. Even scribbled drawings of cupcakes are cute. Whoopie pies are homely.
2. The Travel Factor Cupcakes are less portable than cookies, but whoopie pies are even worse. The filling tends to squish out inappropriately in transit.
3. The Fan Base Nobody puts Cupcake in a corner.
The new cupcake? I don't think so.
I do volunteer baking for the Craig's Kitchen Dessert Corps, which organizes a troop of oven-ready cooks to produce desserts for my local soup kitchen. It's a very cool endeavor.
The dessert assignment changes each week, so I've done everything from rice krispie treats to pumpkin cheesecake brownies and red velvet cake.
One of the recent assignments was to make whoopie pies, which seemed interesting and fun until the time came to actually do it and the weather was a random, record-setting 90° F. In April, for the luvvagod.
The hot oven heated my already overheated apartment. The filling drooped and melted. Each very tasty (but very goopy and sticky) whoopie pie was ultimately only barely contained by the individual zip-top sandwich bags into which I slipped them.
I tried to refrigerate the whole messy bunch of them, but delivery to the soup kitchen required they be okay at room temperature... and I'm afraid these little cookie sandwiches probably ended up being a bit too volatile to handle.
Picture the poor and luckless masses of my neighborhood struggling through exploding packs of marshmallow goo to dig out their chocolate whoopie cookies. Seemed like something just short of a dessert fiasco.
What then, would send me back to make more whoopie pies? Well, 1. leftover ingredients and 2. the kind of wisdom that only comes from sorry experience.
This time, I'll be making whoopie pies with a Cinco de Mayo twist (hooray for spiced chocolate!) and I'm not assembling them until I'm safely on location at the event. Then they can ooze and drip all they want.
I'm also making each "pie" into a much smaller affair. The whoopie pies I first baked up were based on a recipe that made enormous versions... 4 to 5 inches across, as you'll see in the photo above at the top of the page.
While my version is by no means bite-sized, you'll find my whoopies are a much more petite treat (more like 2.5 to 3 inches across), which is more than plenty. Those mega-whoopies are enough to feed two to three people, and honestly, who wants to share?
Mini Mexican Chocolate Whoopie Pies (Makes 12-13)
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp salt
1 2/2 tsp baking soda
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground cayenne
1 1/3 cups buttermilk (or plain yogurt mixed with milk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups brown sugar
For the filling
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup powdered confectioner's sugar
2 cups marshmallow creme or marshmallow fluff
1 tsp vanilla extract
1. Heat the oven to 375°F and use a little oil or butter to grease two large baking sheets.
2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together the dry ingredients: flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda, cinnamon and cayenne.
3. In a separate, smaller bowl, blend the buttermilk and vanilla.
4. In a large mixing bowl, blend the butter and brown sugar until the mixture is light and fluffy. Whip in the eggs until well incorporated.
5. Into the butter mix, alternate adding the blended dry ingredients and the buttermilk mixture, starting and ending with the dry ingredients. The mix will be very sticky.
6. Drop 1/4 cup portions of the batter 2 inches apart on the greased baking sheets, place the sheets in the oven and bake for about 8 minutes. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes before moving the "cookies" to racks to cool fully.
7. To make the filling, blend together the butter, confectioner's sugar, marshmallow creme and vanilla extract.
8. Assemble the whoopie pies by slathering a few tablespoon's worth of the filling on the flat side of one of the cookies. Top the filling with the flat side of another cookie. Repeat this process with the rest of the cookies and filling.
9. Serve immediately, or chill until serving time to help firm up the filling.
If I only had a jar of dulce de leche sitting around the house, I'd try to whip up a filling with that instead of the marshmallow creme (doesn't that sound decadent?) but I do believe these whoopies will have the same whoopie-inducing effect either way.
With that, I bid you a delightful Cinco de Mayo, and may your whooopie-making always be fun, gratifying and easy to clean up.